Published: Sun, March 26, 2017
National | By Traci Kelley

NY mayor avoids charges, moves toward re-election

NY mayor avoids charges, moves toward re-election

NY mayor Bill de Blasio has been the subject of federal and state investigations, regarding his fundraising practices.

De Blasio said he disagreed with some of how the case was characterized.

For almost a year, federal prosecutors probed donations to the campaign and the mayor's now-defunct political action committee. But the decision not to file charges, the statement said, came after weighing among other things, "the high burden of proof, the clarity of existing law and challenge of proving corruption without evidence of personal profit".

At a news conference, de Blasio said the statements confirmed he and his administration had acted lawfully. Vance took the unusual step of noting instances when the mayor appeared to toe right up to the line of legality, and he described the mayor's actions as contrary to the "intent and spirit of the law".

City Hall press secretary Eric Phillips said in a statement that New Yorkers "deserve honest, progressive government" and "will always get it" while de Blasio is mayor.

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Nor that Manhattan DA Cy Vance said outright that de Blasio & Co. had violated "the intent and spirit" of state campaign-finance laws. "Although the city deserves far better than this, the people best positioned to succeed in a Democratic primary are now unlikely to run, and we should therefore expect four more years of Bill de Blasio", he wrote. De Blasio refused to answer Lehrer's questions on whether he thought Bharara was more of a hawk on prosecuting him that Kim was, or why he thought the investigation might have dragged on as long as it did.

"We have conducted a thorough investigation into several circumstances in which Mayor de Blasio and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors from the City, after which the Mayor made or directed inquiries to relevant City agencies on behalf of those donors", said Kim.

"After an extensive investigation. this office has determined that the parties involved can not be appropriately prosecuted, given their reliance on the advice of counsel", Vance wrote in his letter to the elections board. Vance's office separately examined whether de Blasio steered campaign contributions to county committees in order to sidestep NY state campaign finance limits. Close associates of Blasio allegedly devised a scheme to circumvent campaign-contribution limits by individuals, funnelling money through party committees at the county level.

"After careful deliberation. we do not intend to bring federal criminal charges against the Mayor", said Kim, who replaced U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara - fired Saturday by President Donald Trump.

State prosecutors, who examined de Blasio's unsuccessful 2014 effort to help Democrats regain control of the state Senate, concluded that they could not prove each element of the crimes that they considered charging beyond a reasonable doubt, according to a letter outlining their findings.

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